Lace Bite: How to Prevent and Treat

Lace bite is an unpleasant and agonizing issue that affects a lot of athletes who use skates. Too much pressure from the skate tongue and laces can be very irritating to the tendons located in front of the ankle.

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What is lace bite in hockey?

Lace Bite: How to Prevent and Treat

Lace bite, also known as skate bite, is caused by the laces or tongue of a skate boot squeezing the front part of your ankle.

Skating puts a lot of pressure on your ankles, and the lack of tongue support in skates can cause them to dig into your ankle as you move.

Over time, this repeated action may lead to irritated and inflamed tendons around the foot or ankle that bring about swelling alongside painful aches which will prevent you from skating comfortably.

What does lace bite feel like?

The most common symptom of lace bite is a sharp, burning sensation in the front of your foot or ankle while ice skating.

You may also experience tenderness in this area when you are walking or putting pressure on it.

The affected area can become red and swollen due to inflammation and swelling from the continuous friction caused by the ice skate tongue and laces.

What causes lace bite?

There are a few reasons that lace bite occurs.

  • A new pair of skates not broken in

  • Using an old pair of skates with a compressed or thin tongue that offers little padding

  • Skates that are laced excessively tight

  • Old skates that are dry and stiff

  • After taking a break from skating, a player returns to the ice several times every week.

When these conditions – and sometimes a mix of them – act together, the tendons in your ankle can be strained. This may cause irritation and inflammation that leads to lace bite.


There are a few things you can do to help minimize your risk of getting lace bite:

  • Wear skates that fit properly; they should be snug but not too tight.
  • Wear protective padding on the front of your foot and ankle to limit friction between your tendon and skate.
  • Loosen the laces slightly when skating; don’t tie them too tightly.

What should I do if I already have lace bite?

If you already have lace bite, the most important thing you can do is give your feet a rest and avoid putting too much strain on them.

Next, applying an ice pack to the affected area will help reduce swelling and pain.

Also, take frequent breaks during intense practices, as well as trying to avoid back-to-back games or practices.

Furthermore, you may also want to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, for relief of discomfort.

Finally, once the pain has subsided, it is important to keep your feet protected while skating. Wear protective padding and also ensure that your skates fit properly to skate pain free.

How do you stop lace bite on hockey skates?

Try a gel pad in your skates

ZenToes Padded Skate Socks for Lace Bite Protection - 1 Pair - for Hockey, Skating and Tall Boots

A gel sleeve like this one will keep your skate laces from digging in and causing discomfort.

To reduce friction between your skate and tendon, you should consider wearing a gel pad or sleeve while skating.

Purchasing protective wear such as gel pads will help to the reduce pressure in your ice skates.

These gel pads or sleeves will also provide some cushioning against the skates and prevent lace bite. There are many different styles and brands for you to choose from.

This will help to dissipate pressure in these areas, which minimizes pain and swelling discomfort.

A&R Sports Ankle Skate Gel Pad (Pack of 4) , package may vary

Gel pads like these may offer the relieve you’re looking for.

Make sure your skates fit properly

Be sure to buy hockey skates that fit your feet comfortably and don’t cause any pain. If the skates are too tight, they will dig into your ankle and cause discomfort.

Try a new lacing technique

For some skaters, the best way to alleviate lace bite is to begin lacing their skates from outside of the eyelets and then inward.

This over crisscross technique can be beneficial in relieving excess pressure off of the skate’s tongue. The laces squeeze the entire skate boot and keeps skates tight without putting as much pressure directly on the front of the foot.

See our article How to Lace Hockey Skates: For Maximum Comfort And Better Performance to see this method of lacing your skates.

Loosen your ice skates laces

You want your laces to give you the right amount of protection and stay firmly in place, yet not be pulled so tightly that it leads to lace bite.

This may require some experimentation until you find a method of tightening ice skates that works best for you.

A skate lace tightener may help you get the perfect tightness.

Final thoughts

Lace bite can be a difficult issue to tackle, but with the right steps and technique you can minimize your risk of experiencing it. Remember to make sure that your skates fit properly and are not too tight, use protective padding on the front of your foot and ankle, try a new lacing technique if needed, and loosen the laces slightly when you skate.

With these tips in mind, lace bite should no longer be a problem for hockey players or figure skaters! Stay safe and have fun on the ice!

GAME CHANGER BONUS TIP: It can also help to wear supportive insoles in your ice skates to provide arch support and reduce pressure points. This can help to take some pressure off the tendon in your foot and ankle as well.

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